Matthew Steinberg’s eight instruments

Even while waiting for his photo to be taken, sophomore Matthew Steinberg taps his fingers against his knee in imitation of drumming. To Steinberg, music isn’t part of a class he takes but an element that has imbedded itself into his life.

Under the influence of his musical family members, Steinberg began the guitar at age nine and later self-taught multiple rock instruments including tuba, guitar, trombone, string bass, bass guitar, drums, vibraphone and piano.  

“I was in very basic classes, so I didn’t have a lot of homework and I didn’t have a lot of friends, so I used to just go home and practice. Also, I was really bored. I became very depressed sometime in eighth grade, and [music] was something that kept my mind at ease,” Steinberg said. “Learning all those instruments just came to me. If I’m not doing homework or if I’m not in class, I’ll be playing something. I play every second I can.”

Steinberg plays the drums for an outside surf punk rock band that he created in his freshman year with his brother and some of their friends, including junior Michael Ruiz. Inspired by Cartoon Network’s “Regular Show,” Steinberg and his friends decided to name the band Trash Parade. They practiced frequently at Steinberg’s house over the summer, and now go ‘jamming’ in the band room during lunch, tutorial and in between band practices. The band has also played at open mic sessions at Sam Ash Music Store and the dA Center For Arts.

“I hope that we can perform at least at a minor level, if not necessarily a big show. We’re very inspired by small rock bands in our local community — the ones that play not at big stadiums, but at rockhouses. If we can play at that level, we’ll be satisfied,” Steinberg said.

Steinberg plays guitar and tuba in Marching Band, bass and drums in Intermediate Jazz Band and double tuba in Advanced Orchestra. He is also the tuba section leader and quartermaster in Marching Band.

“The people in band are great, and we’re a very close-knit community outside of school too, even though it’s a class in school,” Steinberg said. “Band is the basic version of the military. It keeps you in line and teaches you discipline and responsibility, [and] it has definitely shaped my entire life. Keeping that steady tempo [while drumming] requires a lot of concentration, and moving all your limbs really requires a lot of brain activity. And surprisingly, that has really helped me focus on my studies.”

With the support of Band and Orchestra Director Buddy Clements, Steinberg found interest in music theory and plans to take the level five Associated Board of the Royal School for Music (ABRSM) test this year, which is the highest level of testing for a tuba player.

“Although ABRSM is expensive, I am very excited for it. Dr. Clements has really pushed me into taking ABRSM. I was a really mediocre tuba player in freshman year, and with his help, I really launched myself in improvement,” Steinberg said.

Music not only makes up a large part of his school life — three periods in his schedule, to be exact — but it has also been a way for Steinberg to develop his interest in a musical career. He hopes to major in music and become a movie score composer.

“If I didn’t have to take all those other classes, I wouldn’t. I would just take my band classes,” Steinberg said. “Music is a totally different thing. Instead of experiencing it through sight, you experience it through sound. While the world may be ugly, if you can create something beautiful, that’s ten times better. To see or hear something of beauty just changes your whole life. It’s sweet release from life.”

By Angela Cao, Arts editor
Photo by Brian Wu
Video by Kevin Arifin and Brian Wu